Friday, June 21, 2013

Prototype of Hate: Pandering has Consequences

In December 2008, when Obama selected the homophobic pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his presidential inauguration, progressive Christians were rightly concerned that Obama's pandering to Far-Right Christian bigotry might have consequences. Indeed, as Bruce Wilson noted in his January 2009 article on Warren's fanatical mission in Uganda, radical devotion to violent Christian revolution resulted in genocidal behavior by the Ugandan military. As Chris Rodda observed, the pressure to conform to radical Christian tenets promoted by Warren -- thanks in part to Obama's lack of judgment -- even extended to members of the U.S. military.

As Rachel Tabachnik remarked in October 2010, missionaries of hate who advocate murdering gays have adopted the Ugandan model -- designed by Rick Warren -- as a prototype to be replicated in countries around the globe. While merging church and state is always dangerous, merging state powers with churches like Warren's leads to crimes against humanity.

In May 2012, Kapya Kaoma examined the U.S. Christian Right and the attack on gays in Africa, with a special focus on the anti-gay Rick Warren's role in exporting homophobia. As Frederick Clarkson reported yesterday, the acclaimed documentary God Loves Uganda, which depicts the role of American conservative evangelicals in generating vicious anti-gay campaigns in Uganda, premiers in New York on June 25.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wasted Energy: Fossil Fuel Divestment

In my comment on the campus fossil fuel divestment campaign, I noted that divestment won’t change a thing environmentally. It will only change ownership of some shares from public institutions to private ones–like the banks we bailed out with our tax dollars. Given the money to be made on the booming fossil fuel industry, I’m sure the banks will be delighted to acquire these shares, and in turn leave the public with no voice at future shareholder meetings.

Moral theatrics like this divestment campaign might make activists and students feel virtuous, but they do nothing for the environment. They bring big bucks into the coffers of NGOs like, but they do not change public policy. Nor do they influence corporate behavior, other than in public relations and marketing. I guess that’s why corporate foundations fund NGOs that promote such nonsense.

To date, students on 300 campuses across the US are organizing fossil fuel divestment campaigns. That’s a lot of wasted energy, especially when we need that energy to change the political system that awards fraud and punishes honesty.

As Cory Morningstar observed in her article on’s divestment tour, launched by Bill McKibben, “Such sophisticated public relations campaigns as this one are quite genius in a multitude of ways. Cloaked under the guise of tackling the root causes of the global climate crisis, such campaigns change nothing. Rather, they ensure the populace is participating in what it has been convinced is meaningful action – and nothing more.” As noted in her article, all market investing is about exploiting people and dismantling ecosystems. If students want to save the planet, they should start organizing for political power to change the market system, not rally to switch investments from one exploiting portfolio to another.

Given the influence such high profile campaigns have on the naive, one might return to the simple maxim of follow the money for guidance. In the case of McKibben and, one has to ask why such capitalist titans as Rockefeller would fund an NGO that might threaten the power of the oligarchy they symbolize. As Morningstar illustrates, the answer is they don’t.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Aid to Raid: Tax Justice History

Tax Justice Network recounts the history of the tax justice movement and its emphasis on poverty reduction through taxation. Focusing on the issue of tax havens and the offshore industry where corporate wealth avoided paying its fair share, the architects of the intellectual framework behind tackling systemic poverty by eliminating tax avoidance shifted public thinking from aid to raid. Once NGOs like Christian Aid saw the light, the global economy that creates poverty became a target for campaigns to force banking transparency and global regimes to collect taxes due. It's a fascinating story, partly for its insight into scholarly activism, and partly for the inspiring message that a few good and determined people can indeed make a big difference.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Tempest in a Teapot

As I observed in my comment on Peter D’Errico’s article on Indigenous Peoples at the UN, the uproar in some circles over statements made by the National Congress of American Indians at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues this week is much ado about nothing. By this, I do not mean the issues and relationships between indigenous nations and modern states don’t need to be addressed, but simply that there is no benefit in resorting to hyperbole or paranoia.

As I stated in my comment, the UN and its member states naturally do not want to cede power to indigenous nations as represented directly by their governing authorities or indirectly through organizations like the National Congress of American Indians. They would much prefer to continue paying lip service to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and limit its implementation to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues–a UN playpen for state-approved, foundation-funded indigenous lobbyists. But as D’Errico says, that is not appropriate in today’s world, and NCAI knows this. Instead, its members demand to be treated as the governing authorities they are–not as NGOs.

Perhaps the UN itself is inadequate as an institution to accommodate the needs of indigenous nations and modern states, and something new needs to be created for conflict resolution and diplomatic initiatives between nations and states. Once the UN accepts indigenous nations as governing authorities and as appropriate partners in such an endeavor, new relationships can be worked out, hopefully without all the hyperbole and paranoia that now drive the discussion.

As I noted in my post on the indigenous non-profit industrial complex in the United States, paranoia-fueled witch hunts based on conspiracism are a distraction from the business at hand. While they might be the bread and butter for some indigenous NGOs dependent on Wall Street derivatives distributed through neoliberal philanthropies like the Ford Foundation and Seventh Generation Fund, these witch hunts function as impediments to the indigenous peoples movement.

While not all the hyperbole and paranoia in the current disturbance over who should and should not participate in the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, and about indigenous governing authorities status at the UN, can be traced to American indigenous NGOs and what I call professional protestors, a fair amount of it can. Indeed, the calculated attack on the National Congress of American Indians and tribal leaders at the March 1 North American Preparatory Meeting for the World Conference, and the subsequent rumor mongering among the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus that hosted the meeting, is the basis of much of the present storm.

For those unfamiliar with the players, NAIPC is a self-selected clique of indigenous NGO lobbyists at the UN, who were approved by the governments of Canada and the US and the UN to coordinate indigenous peoples participation in implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Many of them are at least partially funded by the Ford Foundation via intermediaries like the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development.

The NAIPC lobbyists and coordinators were hostile toward tribal nations delegates sent to the meeting, and essentially sabotaged the gathering in order to prevent the National Congress of American Indians and tribal leaders  from participating in the World Conference. The provocateur who led the attack and later started the rumor mongering is Glenn Morris, Ward Churchill’s protege at the University of Colorado. The person who took up the attack after Morris laid the groundwork is Kent Lebsock of Owe Aku International.

The coordinators of the meeting were Arthur Manuel from Canada and Debra Harry from the United States. When NCAI and the tribal leaders denounced the NAIPC meeting and report to the UN as fraudulent, Manuel and Harry conducted a cover-up on the NAIPC list serv, as well as in their report to the Permanent Forum. Manuel and Harry’s non-profits are both funded by Seventh Generation Fund, as is Owe Aku.

While I have covered extensively the UN World Conference process and the fiasco that resulted from these state-appointed coordinators, my point is that the relationship between indigenous nations and modern states can be negotiated, but not through present mechanisms. Using NGOs as substitutes for indigenous governing authorities, or as intermediaries, is inappropriate.

Good governance and indigenous sovereignty are the only way indigenous self-determination can manifest itself. Emotional gratification at being radical purists delivers no jurisdictional results. Intelligent organizing and exercise of political power does.

When professional protestors promote conspiracy theories about indigenous leaders, they undermine the indigenous movement. Anyone can write radical rhetoric and pose as a revolutionary. Only real leaders can govern effectively in ways that benefit indigenous nations and the environments they revere.

As I pointed out in my comment at Censored News, we want to be discerning in our analysis of the indigenous non-profit industrial complex, so we can better understand its dynamics. Indigenous activists sometimes develop a view of themselves and their networks as an alternative to indigenous governments. This view, unfortunately, undermines the indigenous movement by eliminating the prospect of indigenous jurisdiction, and thus plays into the modern state philosophy of indigenous nations termination. While not all indigenous activists succumb to conspiracism, some — like Kent Lebsock of Owe Aku International — do, and by engaging in paranoia-fueled witch hunts like the one started by Glenn Morris, become an impediment to the movement.

In order to succeed, the indigenous movement requires indigenous scholars and activists working alongside indigenous governing authorities to challenge the status quo at the UN, as well as within its member states. Harmonizing their voices is sometimes challenging, but it has to be done.

Ford Foundation supports racial equality, but through its support of the UN Millenium Development Goals, acts in a manner opposed to the collective human rights of indigenous nations. As a neoliberal philanthropy, Ford gives money for these purposes to academia and governments, as well as grassroots activists via intermediaries like First Peoples Worldwide and the Seventh Generation Fund.

As noted by Tonawanda Seneca traditional chief Darwin Hill at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues last week, constitutional and customary indigenous governments must have a unique status in international negotiations, if indigenous human rights are to be respected. Along with consultative indigenous NGOs, this can provide a means of indigenous voices being heard, without the corrupting influence of Ford and other foundations. Ford’s influence doesn’t necessarily imply a lack of integrity on the part of activists and officials benefiting from its largesse; it simply means this dependency limits strategies to reforming a state-centric framework that needs to be opened up to indigenous nations and the indigenous governing authorities exercising jurisdiction in their names.

As a professional protestor promoting conspiracism, Kent Lebsock knows the smear campaign against tribal leaders — concocted by Glenn Morris — is a fabrication to undermine NCAI. I sent all the relevant information on the deceitful and treacherous Morris to Lebsock long ago, so he knows he’s playing mind games. Probably for self-promotion.

Part of this hostility and delinquent behavior goes back to the long-standing resentment internalized by radicals like Ward Churchill and Glenn Morris for being rejected as frauds by both the American Indian Movement and the National Congress of American Indians, but more recently at the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus, it’s become an exercise is breathing their own exhaust, fueled by delusions of grandeur where a faction of radicals like Lebsock view themselves as guardians of the “North American Red Nations”. Ironically, these mighty warriors attacking indigenous governing authorities are funded by the very institutions they pretend to oppose.

Sadly, when these radical pious poseurs from the indigenous non-profit industrial complex attack the top American Indian leaders advancing tribal sovereignty, they hinder the indigenous peoples they profess to protect. Such is the nature of indigenous fronts for capital.

Homeland Security: Protecting Industry from Democracy

As Adam Federman reports, spying on American citizens by US intelligence and law enforcement agencies and private security companies is designed to protect industry from democracy. By gathering information and distributing bulletins about environmentally concerned citizens to local and state police, industry and public relations firms, these spies create an infrastructure that ACLU spokesman Mike German — an FBI special agent for 16 years — says is used to cripple political opposition.

Catholic Coup

In her article How the Catholic Bishops Outsmarted Washington Voters, Valerie Tarico exposes the hostile takeover of Washington State's healthcare delivery system by the Catholic Church, despite these services being overwhelmingly taxpayer-funded. More importantly, Tarico notes the services now available or unavailable are dictated by the Vatican.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

People Land Truth 2013

Intercontinental Cry's 9th anniversary magazine. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Working for Warren: Corporate Greens

In Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse--Part II, Cory Morningstar examines the political theatre of the non-profit industrial complex around the transport of oil, and how corporate greens -- financed by oligarchs like Rockefeller, Gates and Buffett -- are effectively destroying any meaningful activism in the US. At a time when half the total energy produced in the US is wasted due to inefficiencies, protesting pipelines only to have oil shipped by rail is arguably a meaningless activity. But as Morningstar explains, it is funded.